55th Omloop Het Volk - Cat 1.1

Belgium, February 26, 2000

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Museeuw wins his first

Arguably the biggest (current) Belgian hero of cycling, Johan Museeuw (Mapei Quick-Step) has won the 55th Omloop Het Volk, 204 km from Gent to Lokeren today. Although it is an important semi-classic, the man from Gistel on the West coast of Belgium has never won it, despite having competed since 1990.

The race was always going to be a battle between the super strong teams of Mapei and Cofidis: Museeuw, Steels, and Nardello versus Vandenbroucke, Planckaert and Gaumont, with Andrei Tchmil (Lotto-Adecco) and Peter van Petegem (Farm Frites) throwing in their oar as well. It started off fairly calmly, with excellent conditions for this time of year - the bunch averaged less than 39 km/h for the first couple of hours.

The 11 climbs in the race slowly whittled down the 195 rider group. Early on, Vandenbroucke, Steffen Wesemann (Ger, Telekom) and Museeuw showed themselves at the front on the Muur van Gerardsbergen at the 86 km mark. The Cofidis and the Mapei teams were strong enough to send several riders up the road in turn - at 124 km, teammates Vandenbroucke, and Planckaert took Hendrik van Dyck (Palmans) with them in a bold move to get away. Mapei were quickly onto this and Museeuw and Wesemann bridged up, with the group being absorbed by the peloton a short while after.

The last climb, the Molenberg came at 55 km to go, and the peloton was in three groups by this stage, with a front group of 22, Vandenbroucke was struggling at this point and lost touch with the leaders, as did Van Petegem and Brochard. However, in front were Cofidis' Chris Peers and Jo Planckaert, the irrepressible Andrei Tchmil and teammate Mario Aerts (Lotto), Kai Hundertmarck and Steffen Wesemann (Telekom), Stuart O'Grady (Credit Agricole), Jaan Kirsipuu (AG2R), Ludovic Auger (BigMat), Franco Ballerini (Lampre), Johan Museeuw, Daniele Nardello, Tom Steels (Mapei), Romans Vainsteins (Vini Caldirola), Andreas Klier and Servais Knaven (Farm Frites) - Rabobank had missed the boat.

The cobbles at Wichelen with 50 km to go saw an attack by Museeuw and he was quickly joined by Ballerini, Knaven and Wesemann, the latter who was having a fantastic race along with Museeuw. The four quickly established a gap on the 18 man top group, led by Tchmil and Kirsipuu. The gap grew out to a minute and it was clear that these riders were not going to be caught as they approached the final few cobbled sections.

With 13 km to go, Museeuw put in a massive attack, and the other three could not do a thing to stop him. His gap grew from 7 to 16, then out to 38 seconds with a handful of kilometers to go. He was being encouraged all the way by his team director and fans along the side of the road. He finished in triumph, 52 seconds clear of Telekom's Steffen Wesemann who is having a good early part of the season. In third spot was the Dutchman, Servais Knaven who beat Ballerini for the final podium position.

The bunch was led home by Romans Vainsteins, from Tom Steels. Hoffma, Tchmil, Kirsipuu and Nardello rounded out the top 10. It was a fantastic win for Museeuw, who now will look forward to the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix with more hopes of victory. The Belgians were pleased, as was Museeuw.

"I have missed the Omloop Het Volk on my list. After my fall in Paris-Roubaix, I have had to do a lot to come back into my sport and now I've got everything back."

Team manager, Marc Sergeant said : "It's a reward for the whole Mapei-team...This is thé Museeuw we all know from before his fall."

As a professional, Johan Museeuw celebrates his 90th victory with this race. His palmares over the past 12 years are impressive, to say the least:

Career wins

1988 [ADR]: 1
1989: 4
1990 [Lotto]: 11 (incl 2 stages in the Tour de France)
1991: 11 (incl. GP Zurich)
1992: 9 (incl Belgian champion)
1993 [GB]: 9 (incl Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Tours)
1994: 9 (incl Amstel Gold Race).
1995 [Mapei]: 11 (incl. Ronde van Vlaanderen and GP Zürich).
1996: 6 (incl Paris-Roubaix, Belgian champion and worldchampion)
1997: 11 .
1998: 3 (incl Ronde van Vlaanderen).
1999: 4 (incl Dwars door België)
2000: 1 (Omloop Het Volk)


1 Johan Museeuw (Bel) Mapei-Quick Step                       5.01.00  (40.664 km/h)
2 Steffen Wesemann (Ger) Deutsche Telekom-ARD                    0.52
3 Servais Knaven (Ned) Farm Frites 
4 Franco Ballerini (Ita) Lampre-Daikin 
5 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Vini Caldirola-Sidermec                1.52
6 Tom Steels (Bel) Mapei-Quick Step 
7 Tristan Hoffman (Ned) Memory Card-Jack & Jones 
8 Andrei Tchmil (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 
9 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) Ag2r Prévoyance-Décathlon 
10 Daniele Nardello (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step
11 Jo Planckaert (Bel) Cofidis
12 Kai Hundertmarck (Ger) Deutsche Telekom-ARD
13 Chris Peers (Bel) Cofidis
14 Mario Aerts (Bel) Lotto-Adecco
15 Andreas Klier (Ger) Farm Frites                               2.22
16 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Crédit Agricole
17 Jan Schaffrath (Ger) Deutsche Telekom-ARD                     3.14
18 Lars Michaelsen (Fra) La Française des Jeux
19 Lauri Aus (Est) Ag2r Prévoyance-Décathlon
20 Alessandro Baronti (Ita) Cantina Tollo-Regain
21 Stéphane Barthe (Fra) Ag2r Prévoyance-Décathlon
22 Jean-Patrick Nazon (Fra) La Française des Jeux
23 Bart Leysen (Bel) Mapei-Quick Step
24 Ludovic Auger (Fra) Big Mat-Auber 93
25 Oleg Pankov (Ukr) Collstrop-De Federale Verzekeringen
26 Guido Trenti (Ita) Cantina Tollo-Regain
27 Martin Van Steen (Ned) Farm Frites
28 Laurent Brochard (Fra) Jean Delatour
29 Tom Desmet (Bel) Tönissteiner-Landbouwkrediet
30 Ronny Assez (Bel) Flanders-Prefetex
31 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Polti
32 Wilfried Peeters (Bel) Mapei-Quick Step
33 Paul Van Hyfte (Bel) Lotto-Adecco
34 Roger Hammond (GB) Collstrop-De Federale Verzekeringen
35 Frank Corvers (Den) Memory Card-Jack & Jones
36 Nico Mattan (Bel) Cofidis
37 Nico Eeckhout (Bel) Palmans-Ideal
38 Thierry Marichal (Bel) Lotto-Adecco
39 Geert Omloop (Bel) Collstrop-De Federale Verzekeringen
40 Ralf Grabsch (Ger) Deutsche Telekom-ARD
41 Geert Verheyen (Bel) Lotto-Adecco
42 Simone Bertoletti (Ita) Lampre-Daikin
43 Kurt Van Lancker (Bel) Lotto-Adecco
44 Fabien De Waele (Bel) Lotto-Adecco
45 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Rabobank
46 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Farm Frites
47 Wim Feys (Bel) Palmans-Ideal
48 Jurgen Guns (Bel) Vlaanderen 2002-Eddy Merckx
49 Enrico Cassani (Ita) Polti
50 Hans De Clercq (Bel) Palmans-Ideal
51 Steve De Wolf (Bel) Cofidis
52 Fabio Secchi (Ita) Polti
53 Michel Vanhaecke (Bel) Tonissteiner-Colnago
54 Kristof Trouve (Bel) Vlaanderen 2002-Eddy Merckx
55 Gabriele Missaglia (Ita) Lampre-Daikin
56 Rolf Sorensen (Ned) Rabobank
57 Paolo Fornaciari (Ned) Mapei-Quick Step
58 Peter Farazijn (Bel) Cofidis
59 Matthias Kessler (Ger) Deutsche Telekom-ARD
60 Marc Wauters (Bel) Rabobank
61 Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) La Française des Jeux
62 Coen Boerman (Ned) Rabobank
63 Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel) Cofidis
64 Emmanuel Magnien (Fra) La Française des Jeux
65 Jan Boven (Ned) Rabobank                                      4.32
66 Christophe Mengin (Fra) La Française des Jeux                 5.4

Started: 195
Finished: 66

Thanks to Bert Geerts for supplying complete results